Riverhead, NY July 10th
By Bob Finan
Third year NASCAR Modified driver Michael Rutkoski of Matituck broke into the winner’s circle Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway delivering his grandfather Buzz Chew his first victory as a asphalt NASCAR Modified car owner when he won the 50-lap feature event from the 11th starting position. For Chew who is deeply entrenched in motorsports owning the Super DirtCar team of 2019 champion Mat Williamson as well sponsoring events and pace vehicles at Riverhead since 1985 the win was particularly satisfying with his grandson at the wheel of the family team.
Early on in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified event youth prevailed at the front of the field with Eric Zeh leading the first two laps over Jack Handley Jr. before Handley took the top spot on a double file restart to start the third lap. Soon CJ Lehmann who started from the 5th position was in the mix at the front making his way underneath Zeh entering the first turn for second on lap 5. Three laps later Lehmann worked his way by Handley for the race lead on lap 8 exiting the fourth turn but it was at this point things began to heat up at the front.
With Lehmann leading Handley both Justin Brown and Eric Zeh were right on the rear bumper of the race leader on the lowside of the track while Handley rode more to the outside of the track. On lap ten racing off the second corner things got too close with Lehmann, Brown and Zeh coming together off turn two drawing the third yellow of the race. When the field was reset Handley again found himself out front with John Fortin Sr. now second. When the leaders got to the choose cone Handley picked the outside leaving Fortin to the inside while Michael Rutkoski who started the race 11th now sat third.When the race went back to green Hanldey also seeking his first career win remained out front with Fortin and Rutkoski racing for second with Michael taking the spot on lap 13.After sizing Handley up for four laps Rutkoski decided on lap 17 exiting the fourth corner that it was “go time” and he dipped under Handley to take the race lead bringing Fortin to second with him for a short time with Handley reclaiming the position later in the race.
Once out front Rutkoski a former Crate Modified champion would lead the rest of the way in his Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac Chevy for that all important first career win. “I just can’t tell you what this means” Rutkoski commented after greeted by some victory lane pyrotechnics on Fireworks night. “My family Mom & Dad, Grandpa Buzz and Uncle Bryon who have stood behind me since day one. What is so cool is my mentor since day one Ron Ste-Marie aka “Spot” from our dirt team is here tonight. He tweaked the car and of course Kyle Ellwood, who is not only a great crew chief but he’s become my best friend too” The win wrapped up a busy week for Rutkoski who last weekend along with girlfriend Marisa James moved into a home they purchased on the east end.
Jack Handley Jr. of Medford wheeled the Joe Ambrose owned Jessup Landscaping Chevy to a career best runner-up finish while Chris Young of Calverton drove from a 12th place starting berth to finish third in the CPC Chevy. Young had defending NASCAR WMT champion Justin Bonsignore serve as his spotter for the night crediting him for his solid drive. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and Kyle Soper of Manorville were fourth and fifth.
It might have taken “Radiant” Ray Minieri of Bay Shore the better part of five years to win his first Late Model feature but it sure didn’t take him long to pocket career win number two which he did in a rough and tumble 40-lap event Saturday. Former Charger standout Chris McGuire paced the race at the throw of the green chased by Chris Turbush driving the Dave Brigati entry. McGuire would lead until the 11th lap of the race when he was passed by both Turbush and Jeremy McDermott with Turbush to show the way until the halfway signal when he was overtaken by McDermott to the inside off turn two. On lap 23 things got too close at the front when McDermott, Turbush and Kevin Metzger came together in turn two slowing the race with another caution. With the top three now at the rear of the field rookie driver Joe Warren Jr. and Ray Minieri made up the front row for the restart with Warren leading Minieri from laps 24 through 27 before Ray made what turned out to be the winning pass on lap 27 exiting the fourth turn to the inside. Warren ran second to Minieri until the 34th lap when he was passed by a hard charging Chris Turbush. However by the time Chris got to second Ray Minieri in his Hometown Taxi entry was not going to be caught securing his second win in a row. Turbush of Wading River was runner-up in the Coors Light machine while Chris McGuire of Selden was third in the C-Ya Apparel Chevy.
Vinny Delaney of East Islip became the first repeat winner of the 2021 Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds when he won their 25-lap feature event. Dennis Krupski and Vinny Delaney brought the 21-car field to the green flag with Delaney jumping to the early race lead. Charles Macwhinnie moved by Krupski for second on lap 2. Delaney who won the June 20th Crate Modified event for the first of his career had his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm racer on rails and was able to build a comfortable lead during the race. On lap 22 Eric Hersey raced his way to second but it would turn out to be too little, too late as Vinny Delaney would take the checker flag with a half second advantage. Eric Hersey of Ronkonkoma was runner-up in the Goosehead Insurance Chevy while defending champion Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches came home third in the Benimax Trucking Chevy.
All time leading Super Pro Truck winner Lou Maestri of Deer Park added another notch to his belt when he won their 20-lap main event for his 36th career triumph. Joe Cerabino and Mark Stewart brought the field to green with Stewart jumping to the early race lead. After running second for the first two circuits Cerabino was passed by Lou Maestri to the inside exiting the fourth turn to start the third lap. As the race developed Stewart and Maestri found themselves in familiar territory, racing each other for a SPT win and did so side by side from laps 3 through 8. A Joe Creabino spin in turn one drew the yellow on lap ending for the moment the side by side racing for the lead. When the race resumed Stewart stayed out front for the first four laps before Maestri went to the outside to challenge the leader. On lap 12 exiting the fourth turn Maestri rode the outside by Stewart to take the lead starting the 13th cycle. Once out front Lou Maestri stayed there for his second of 2021 in the Goodfella’s Auto Repair Ford. After Mark Stewart came up light at the scales runner-up money went to Max Handley of Medford in the Hydro Action Chevy while brother Jack Handley Jr. was third in the Riverwalk Bar & Grill entry.
CJ Zukowski of Riverhead scored a clean sweep in the Mini Stocks as the defending champion set fast time with a lap of 14.838 and then proceeded to lead all 30-laps f their feature for his track leading third win of 2021. Early on Jesse St. Clair and Joe Cooke Jr. chased Zukowski with Cooke finding his fine ride come to an end on lap 8 when he ans former champion Paul Wojcik got together off turn 2. That moved Tony Collinsworth to second alongside Zukowski for the restart but when the green waved Zukowski in the MSM Motorsports Cavalier was just too strong driving off to his 5th career win as the race concluded. Paul Wojcik of Patchgue over the final 12 laps of the race roared all the way back to post a second place finish in his Moe’s Southwest Grill Restaurants of L.I. Honda while Tony Collinsworth of Calverton scored a career best third place tally in his Suffolk Tree Works entry.
The Busch brothers were not the only siblings racing for a win over the weekend as Mariah Lawrence of Southampton made a daring late race pass of her brother Woot to earn her long awaited for career Truck Enduro win in a 40-lap contest. Woot broke to the early lead from the pole staying out front over the first 15-laps of the tilt. Former champion Phil LaManna snuck by Lawrence on lap 16 but as quickly as he took the lead misfortune was about to strike LaManna as he fell to the infield surrendering the lead. That moved defending champion Justin McGrady out front on lap 18 but just nine laps later on the 27th lap Woot Lawrence reclaimed the lead. Soon thereafter Mariah who began the race in 11th made her way by McGrady for second and now was tracking down brother Woot. With barely over a lap remaining Mariah was able to catch and pass her brother entering the first turn as the crowd roared with approval. Ironically it is Woot who prepared the winning truck. Woot Lawrence also of Southampton was second in the Gregor Well Drilling Chevy while former champion Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point was third in the Abner Tree Experts S-10.
With three former iconic Demolition Derby drivers looking on in “Long” John Silver, Michael “Gravel” Buksa and “Pistol” Pete Sindone the second Demolition Derby of the year unfolded as seasoned veteran Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka scored his first win in five years before the trio of legends. Savoy in his Monsters Recycling machine outlasted Shawn Adler of Lindenhurst and Rob Savoy of Selden who were second and third.
Fourth generation racer Gavin Turbush of Riverhead won the Kids Big Wheel Race earning not just a handsome trophy but also the big wheel he rode to victory on.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Michael Rutkoski 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Chris Young 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. Kyle Soper 6. Tom Rogers Jr. 7. Kyle Ellwood 8. Craig Lutz 9. Roger Turbush 10. Howie Brode 11. CJ Lehmann 12. JB Fortin 13. Dylan Slepian 14. Eric Zeh 15. John Baker 16. Justin Brown 17. John Beatty Jr.
Late Models: 1. Ray Minieri 2. Chris Turbush 3. Chris McGuire 4. Ethan Brown 5. Brandon Turbush 6. Jeremy McDermott 7. Ed Cheslak 8. Brian McElearney 9. Shawn Patrick 10. Jerry Giordano 11. Kevin Metzger 12. Brian Doyle 13. Joe Warren Jr.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Vinny Delaney 2. Eric Hersey 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. Owen Grennan 5. Sean Glennon 6. Alex Colasanto 7. Matt Brode 8. Steve Ratti 9. Mark Stewart 10. Eddie Schutze 11. Stephen Coleman 12. Dennis Krupski 13. Terry Stiles 14. Mike Albasini 15. AJ DeSantis 16. Chase Grennan 17. Mark Wolf 18. Charles Macwhinnie 19. Michael Berner 20. Rich Gerbe 21. Ken Massa III
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Lou Maestri 2. Max Handley 3. Jack Handley Jr. 4. Matt Triola 5. Frank Dumicich Sr. 6. Daniel Creegan 7. Ethan Brown 8. Joe Cerabino 9. Mark Stewart
Mini Stocks: 1. CJ Zukowski 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Tony Collinsworth 4. Justin Squires 5. Joe Cooke Jr. 6. Jesse St. Clair 7. James O’Connell 8. Scott Phiilips 9. Martin O’Connell 10. Nick Kocis 11. Ryan Warren 12. Tom Puccia DNS- Joe Warren Jr.
Truck Enduro: 1. Mariah Lawrence 2. Woot Lawrence 3. Don Nelson 4. Gary Voight 5. Kevin McCarthy 6. Brian Dean 7. Kerry Botts 8. Amber Weiss 9. Dusty Cole 10. Tom Sullivan 11. Chris Olsen 12. Emily Hubbard 13. Whitney Williams 14. Danielle Cohen 15. Jackie Germuth 16. Doug Tittle 17. John Schultze 18. Kayla Kelly 19. Phil LaManna 20. Brandon LaManna 21. Kelsey Squires DQ- Justin McGrady
Demolition Derby: 1. Jason Savoy 2. Shawn Adler 3. Robert Savoy
Kids Big Wheel Race Winner: Gavin Turbush